Editor’s Note by Brian Kevin
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A couple of autumns back, my family and I camped in Newry in October. I had never before hiked in Grafton Notch State Park, only driven through it here and there, but enough dazzling fall photos had come across my desk to give me the impression that it was among Maine’s most spectacular places to see fall foliage. So one morning, my younger son and I left my wife and older son snoozing in the tent, and I drove us in the damp pre-dawn to the trailhead of Old Speck, Grafton Notch’s 4,170-foot crown jewel. The clouds were obscuring the sunrise as I put the little guy in our backpack carrier, still limp and sleepy, and we headed up Maine’s fourth-highest mountain in a cool drizzle.
It rained on us off and on all morning, a gray cloak of fog and cloud hugging the mountain tight. The closest we came to seeing the brilliant panoramas from all those magazine photos were three or four tantalizing flashes of crimson and gold as the curtains around us billowed, parted, and closed again. As a leaf-peeping excursion, our hike was a bust.
But the point of any foliage ramble is the ramble and not the foliage, and my son and I spent the morning telling jokes and singing songs and stopping to admire birdcalls and weird lichen. He tugged my ears from back there in the carrier, just like his big brother had on dozens of mountain hikes, and sometime in the late morning, we arrived at a summit so hopelessly socked in, it might have been April or July or December for all the scenery we scoped from the old fire tower. My son missed most of it anyway, dozing in his carrier, his head resting gently on the back of my neck.
Grafton Notch is among the sites that staff photographer Benjamin Williamson highlights in this month’s fall foliage feature (p. 58), just one in a circuit of striking western Maine locales. If you go, I hope your weather is better than mine and your company just as unbeatable.
Last fall, I brought the younger one up a mountain in the backpack carrier for the last time. It was just our local knoll, looking out over the coast and the Camden Hills, but the color was dramatic. Both boys are too big for it now, but the carrier still sits there in the mudroom. Of all the kid stuff we’ve managed to liquidate in the last couple years, it’s the one thing I have a hard time getting rid of.
Editor in chief
Ready for a foliage road trip? We’re taking you on an autumn ramble through western Maine’s backwoods and back roads.
Photographed by Benjamin Williamson
Love ’em or hate ’em, floating resorts are bringing boatloads of day-trippers to your favorite Maine towns.
By Will Grunewald, Joel Crabtree, and Joyce Kryszak
Starks is a quiet, lovely little town that’s also Maine’s long-reputed epicenter of marijuana culture. So how come no one there seems real blissed out about legalized pot?
By Jesse Ellison
North by East
A renowned boatbuilder reimagines a 78-year-old sardine carrier, a pair of mad lighthouse keepers star in a dark and stormy tale, the Madam of Maples is in hot pursuit of fall foliage, and author Tess Gerritsen spins her first ghost story. Also, a diver finds a sunken WWII patrol boat in Maine Dispatches.
Food and Drink
We go all in for Maine drinks, sipping fruity, vinegary Herbal Revolution shrubs, visiting New England’s first cider bar, and pairing up Maine’s foremost wine and beer experts. Plus, our guide to Portland’s best happy hours.
Good Things from Maine
Editor’s note, reader feedback, responses to August’s Where in Maine, and more.
American Idol judge and songwriter Kara DioGuardi on York’s Hartley Mason Reserve.
On the cover: Height of Land, near Rangeley, by Benjamin Williamson
Additional photos: Jack Milton; Ryan David Brown; Heidi Kirn; Jarrod McCabe and